Patsy Byrne remembered by Tony Robinson: ‘She had unerring skill to make the daftest, silliest thing sound absolutely real’

The actor pays tribute to his late Blackadder colleague

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The Independent Online

Sir Tony Robinson has paid tribute to his former Blackadder co-star, Patsy Byrne, who died on 17 June aged 80.

Byrne played 'Nursie' – a woman whose real name was Bernard – in the British comedy series, while Robinson acted alongside her as the dim-witted Baldrick.

“It was like we were her boys, she was so indulgent towards us,” he said on Radio 5 Live.

“Patsy was just a real confident centre of all the scenes she was in. While the rest of us might be getting twitchy and slightly irritated, Patsy never was. She was superb.”

Denville Hall, a care home for elderly actors in north-west London, confirmed news of Byrne's death on Saturday 21 June.

“She had unerring skill to make the daftest, silliest thing sound absolutely real and absolutely plausible,” continued Robinson.

"I remember seeing her in As You Like It and it was one of those parts where the actress usually goes 'de dum de dum de dum de dum de dum', but the way she said it was so that each word was a revelation to her and I think that was one of her great comic skills."

She is the second Blackadder actor to die in as many weeks, after Rik Mayall – who played Lord Flashheart – died on 9 June, aged 56, following an “acute cardiac arrest”.

His funeral was held in Devon on 19 June.

"How bizarre and hurtful that we should lose two of our friends so quickly,” said Robinson.

“Life does that to us all sometimes doesn't it?”

Blackadder producer John Lloyd recalled how Byrne was never put off by the chaotic nature of the show's rehearsals.

“She was a proper actress,” said Byrne. “Well spoken, incredibly bright, she put up with our little ways.”

“The rehearsals of Blackadder were interminable with people changing the lines all the time and she was always on top of it,” he added. “She never complained.

“We’ve had famous actors walk out of rehearsals because it was such a nightmare and a shambles, but Patsy never let out a peep of complaint. She was a terrific person. She was our mum, just a wonderful person.”

Stephen Fry was also quick to pay tribute to the actress, calling her an “adorable woman”.

Byrne’s other roles included ITV series Watching, police sitcom Z Cars and children's series Maid Marian and Her Merry Men. She also played Mrs Nubbles in the BBC's 1979 adaption of The Old Curiosity Shop.